Union County, like Essex County and Hudson County, is a blue county and despite its confusing name, its Democratic Party organization awards places on its “party line” to candidates for municipal, county, state, and federal offices in the least democratic manner possible. Its county chair makes a unilateral decision. Other county party organizations, like those in Bergen and Middlesex Counties, hold quasi-democratic conventions, where county committeepersons are able to vote for prospective candidates for elected office using a secret ballot. I don’t give these counties full credit for being small-d democratic, because I know the degree to which their county committeepersons are part of a political machine, which controls how party officers like committeepersons vote through no-show jobs and other corrupts forms of patronage.
Red counties like Hunterdon, Monmouth, Morris, Somerset, Sussex, and Warren are the most small-d democratic of the county Democratic Party organizations. Because these organizations have so little actual power in their counties and municipalities, where most of the patronage opportunities come from, their committeepersons are activists and true believers, working to build their party organizations from the grassroots up with no individual agendas or desires for personal enrichment except with regards to the degree that their efforts will produce better governance in their communities. These organizations hold truly open conventions and I have personally witnessed a contested congressional primary election swing on their outcome.
One county party organization, Sussex County, intends to take their commitment and dedication to the democratic process a step further by opening their convention to all registered Democrats in their counties, not just county committeepersons. This might be because there isn’t a significantly larger number of registered Democrats than Democratic county committeepersons in Sussex, but let us give them the benefit of the doubt.